Amite High student given graduation after being told he couldn't walk
HAMMOND - Cheers filled the Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum as Andrew Jones accepted his diploma after Amite High School would not let him walk at the official ceremony.
Jones was denied the right to walk in May because he refused to shave his face after school officials asked him to. Jones finished school at the top of his class with a 4.0 GPA and valedictorian honors.
State Representative Katrina Jackson and New Orleans Pastor Ro Wright III hosted the event. They said the ceremony tonight was put on to honor a hard working student.
"We didn't gather tonight for someone that broke a rule," Wright said. "We gathered so that the rule doesn't break him."
"It's because of a bad action," Jackson added, "that a good action sprang forth."
Also present at the ceremony was Dr. Willie Larkin, president of Grambling State University. Though Jones has not committed to Grambling, Larkin offered Jones a scholarship.
"You didn't do anything wrong," Larkin said. "In fact, you did everything right." He added "you will never be criticized at Grambling State University because of your facial hair."
Various state leaders presented Jones with other scholarships, and Rich Motors of New Orleans gave Jones a brand new car.
A lawsuit involving Jones and the Tangipahoa Parish School System is pending following the incident. Tangipahoa Parish President Mark Kolwe has said Jones and other students were warned in advance of the graduation that they wouldn't be allowed to walk if they didn't shave. He also says Jones was offered a razor and shaving cream moments before the ceremony, but Jones declined to shave.